Bellefonte files motion to throw out injunction request to stop Garman Theatre demolition

mmorgan@centredaily.comNovember 19, 2013 


It’s likely the Garman Theatre will likely be razed and the plot used for affordable housing apartments after a judge ruled in favor of the plan.

NABIL K. MARK — CDT file photo Buy Photo

— The Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority is ready for the legal situation surrounding the Garman Theatre to be over.

Borough solicitor Rod Beard filed a motion on behalf of the IDA to quash a Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association request to the Commonwealth Court for an injunction. The association is trying to prevent developer Ara Kervandjian from demolishing the building until it has time for an appeal.

But Beard wrote in his motion that the BHCA has no standing because Centre County President Judge Thomas King Kistler declared that the association is not a party in the matter and denied its petition to intervene.

“They really have no legal basis or standing to complain about anything,” he said.

Beard said the appellate courts have the power to name the BHCA a party in the matter. Because it doesn’t have standing, the injunction request should be thrown out, he said. The IDA also is requesting the court quash the petition for appeal.

He added that the IDA followed the Abandoned and Blighted Properties Conservatorship Act perfectly, and Kistler ruled correctly in his position to accept the proposal.

“We did everything that the law required us to do,” he said. “Quite honestly, we just want to be done with the thing.”

As conservator, the IDA members reviewed Kervandjian’s plan to raze the Garman and Hotel Do De to create one building of workforce housing, and the BHCA proposal to restore the building to a regional arts center. After months of meetings and hearings, the IDA chose Kervandjian’s plan, calling it more feasible.

But the BHCA believes the protocol was not followed correctly.

That argument includes:

•  Kervandjian not having the funding in place;

•  the Conservatorship Act stipulating rehabilitation of a building over demolition;

•  that ABPC legislation is new and hasn’t been challenged through appellate courts;

•  that the deed was transferred to Bellefonte Mews instead of the approved Progress Development Group, which owns Bellefonte Mews; and

•  that it was a mistake by Kistler not to approve the BHCA request for an injunction.

Beard is hoping for a ruling on the injunction request in the next month to five weeks. If the request is denied, Kervandjian will have green light to demolish the buildings before the February deadline.

Earlier this month, Borough Council approved demolition of the buildings.

Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said Bellefonte officials are ready for the proceedings to be over because they don’t want to incur any more legal fees or additional costs.

“We certainly want to put an end to the legal expenses,” he said. “We would like to put the situation behind us.”

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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